Insulin is kind of a double agent, responsible both for encouraging the storage of body fat and supporting the anabolic environment crucial for muscle growth. This makes it very important to strategically manage your insulin production according to your activity.
Lower insulin levels at rest will enable you to burn more fat, while elevated levels during the workout will enhance muscle growth by promoting rapid uptake of amino acids and glycogen into the muscle cells. So in order to make the best use of insulin, keep your carbs low most of the day but make sure to eat around 50 grams of carbs before training and 60 grams right after it. During the rest of the day, minimize fat storage by minimizing your intake of carbs.
4. Thyroid hormones
The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in our body, responsible for secreting hormones that control weight management, metabolic processes and sleep patterns. Among other things, the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) provide crucial support to the processes of protein synthesis and fat burning. The thyroid gland needs specific vitamins and minerals in order to function properly, and prolonged hardcore dieting causes a decline in thyroid hormones, resulting with a reduction in protein synthesis and metabolism.
To prevent low thyroid hormone levels, make sure to consume foods that are rich in zinc and iron as well as foods rich in iodine such as eggs, cow’s milk, saltwater fish and shellfish. Selenium is another important nutrient that maintains the health of the thyroid gland by helping regulate hormone synthesis. Also, include cheat days in your diet (once every 10 days) on which you’ll increase your carb and fat consumption in order to prevent the body from adjusting to constant low calorie intake, thereby keeping your metabolism running smooth.
While it’s true that moderately high levels of the stress hormone cortisol help you burn fat, an overproduction of cortisol can have many negative effects on the body and mind, including stimulating the destruction of immune cells, increasing muscle loss, fat gain and fatigue and negatively affecting our emotional well-being.
In addition, chronically elevated levels of cortisol make our bodies more vulnerable to chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, preventing the accumulation of cortisol is vital to maintaining a healthy organism and supporting your bodybuilding progress. To keep your cortisol levels under control you should minimize stress, reduce caffeine intake and get enough enough sleep every night.
Furthermore, twice a week consume a high amount of foods containing simple, fast-burning sugars after your workout in order to utilize the positive effects of post training insulin spikes on cortisol levels. Finally, taking stress-reducing supplements such as antioxidants, magnesium, calcium and zinc can help you keep cortisol levels from rising.